Mental Stimulation: Getting the best out of your dog

Did you know, boredom and excess energy are two common reasons for behaviour problems in dogs. This makes sense because they’ve been naturally bred to lead very active lives. Wild dogs spend about 80% of their waking hours hunting and scavenging for food. Domestic dogs have been helping and working alongside us for thousands of years, for tasks such as hunting, farming or protection. For example, retrievers and pointers were bred to locate and fetch game and water birds. Scent hounds, like coonhounds and beagles, were bred to find rabbits, foxes and other small prey. Dogs like German shepherds, collies, cattle dogs and sheepdogs were bred to herd livestock.

Whether dogs were working for us or scavenging on their own, their survival once depended on lots of exercise and problem solving. But what about now?Dog Resting on Floor

Today that’s changed. While we’re away at work all day, they generally have not much else to do but sleep. The result is dogs who are bored, often overweight and have too much energy. It’s a perfect recipe for behaviour problems.

How do we fix this problem?

It’s not necessary to quit your job, take up duck hunting or get yourself a bunch of sheep to keep your dog out of trouble. However, we encourage you to find ways to exercise not only their body, but their brain. And because we all lead busy lives, and can’t always hire a Dog Walker or Daycare Service, if you give your dog “jobs” to do when they’re by herself, they’ll be less likely to come up with her own ways to occupy her time, like chewing your couch, raiding the trash or eating your favourite pair of shoes.

Nik Training Dogs

We, at Dharma Dog Services, have been putting this idea to practise with our Social Club crew, with a new program called “Today We’re Working On…”. We know that all of our Social Club dogs already get an abundance of physical exercise they need, and socialisation, at our Daycare, but what about mental exercise? This where we have stepped in. The results? Some very happy, tired, well behaved dogs! And of course, happy owners!

Below you will see some of the exercises that we have been doing with our dogs. Some behavioural exercises, some fun games and tricks – both just as satisfying for you and your dog.

If you want any tips on games you can play with your dog, or leave for your dog to do whilst you are at work, let us know! Or if you have any of your own, I’d love to hear them. We’re always looking for creative ideas, and requests, that we can put into practise with our crew. Learn more about our Social Club here – or like us on Facebook for more videos & updates.

Today We’re Working On… Patience!

Click here to view Video (1)
Click here to view Video (2)

…Listening!

Click here to view Video (1)

…Show Us Your Tricks!

Click here to view Video (1)
Click here to view Video (2)

Leash Training with Dogs

Dog on Leash

Dogs are not born knowing that they shouldn’t pull ahead or lag behind on a leash. Here at Dharma Dog we understand that some people find teaching leash manners to be challenging because dogs move faster than us and are excited about exploring their surroundings, in and around Vancouver. Leashes also constrain their natural behaviours and movements, to want to run around or even to stop and sniff. The most critical thing to remember is to never allow your dog to pull. If you’re inconsistent, your dog will continue to try pulling because sometimes, it pays off.

Until your dog learns to walk without pulling, consider all walks training sessions. If you’re doing this at home, keep training sessions short for maximum concentration. And since these loose-leash training sessions will be too short and slow to provide adequate exercise, find other ways to exercise your dog until he’s mastered walking.
Teaching a dog to walk without pulling requires plenty of rewards. Use desirable treats that your dog doesn’t get at other times. Soft treats are also great to use so your dog can eat them quickly and continue training.

If your dog gets wildly excited before you’ve even left for your walk, you need to focus on that before anything else. Walk to the door and pick up the leash. If your dog races around, barks, whines, spins or jumps up, just stand completely still. Do and say absolutely nothing until your dog calms down a bit. As soon as he/or she is calm, slowly reach toward her to clip on the leash. If she starts to bounce around or jump up on you, quickly bring your hands (and the leash) back toward your body, holding constant pressure. Wait until your dog has all four paws on the floor again. Then slowly reach toward her again to attach her leash. Repeat this sequence until your dog can stand in front of you, without jumping up or running around, while you clip on her leash. This may seem like a tedious exercise at first, but if you’re consistent, your hard work will pay off. Eventually, your dog will learn to stand still while you attach her leash.

Choosing the Right Walking Equipment

While you’re teaching your dog not to pull, you should be using a six-foot cotton leash. Retractable leashes, or leashes longer than six feet in length are great for trained dogs, but they don’t work if you’re trying to teach your dog not to pull on leash.

Cotton Leash

Having a retractable leash before your dog is leash trained can cause all sorts of panic. For example, in the above scenario, if your dog is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It’s much easier to regain control of – or protect — a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he’s 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string. The thin string of the these leashes can also easily break, or cause burns, cuts, or injuries to the dog if jerked too suddenly.

Dogs Who Resist Walking on Leash

Some dogs may actually be reluctant to walk on leash. Instead of pulling, they freeze or turn around and pull back toward home. Often these dogs are fearful, and they need help feeling comfortable when walking on leash.

When your dog freezes, you can try stopping a few feet in front of your dog and waiting. If he shows any signs of moving toward you, say “Yes!” and reach toward him to deliver a treat, showing good behaviour. Praise and reward him only for forward movement. It will also help to walk your dog in quieter areas at first. Instead of walking on a busy road, opt for a quiet residential street or a path through the park. Even sitting on a quiet beach might do the trick to allow your dog to get used to being on leash.

Bringing up the Perfect Puppy

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This gallery contains 1 photo.

Did you or your family happen to get a new puppy for Christmas? Puppies can bring the greatest of joys! The affection, and sheer innocence can brighten everyone’s day and add a sense of anticipation to return home from a long hard … Continue reading

Vancouver’s Best Dog Trainers

Here is my list of Vancouver’s best dog trainers.

This list will be a little biased because I will most definitely include myself 😉

I’m comfortable writing a list like this because we all have a little something to offer. Although I am confident in my abilities to teach and help rehabilitate dogs, I only offer one on one services. This may not be the right fit for some of you. There are also circumstances where I will help you learn to understand your dog better, but you may desire a group setting where you can work on agility!

Here are a few of my favourite Vancouver based dog trainers in no particular order.

Shannon Malmberg  from Zen Dog

Shannon is pleasant to speak with and is extremely knowledgeable. She offers a large group class or private consults if necessary.

Donna Hall From Hot Diggity Dog

Donna is a clicker training wiz and a really nice person who truly cares about the dogs she works with. She’s also a pretty decent poker player 🙂 Unfortunately she’ll be moving to Victoria! : (

Shelagh Begg from Dizine Canine

If you have a “bully breed” she’s an excellent choice!

Dog Smart is an alternative that offers long term training for those of you that feel you’d like constant guidance. Class settings, clicker training and a cool store.

I may as well include Dharma Dog! Call 604-327-3649 or email us at: info@dharmadogservices.com

As a certified behaviour specialist  and member of CAPPDT and of the APDT  I offer a variety of methods but really focus on the natural communication of dogs and learning how to build a lasting bond with them. I believe in a hands off approach and really focus on teaching you to better understand your dog. Recently I made a video of a leash training session.

Dog trainer vancouver

Dog Trainer Nik Fabisiak and his trusty sidekick Vegas

Good luck on your search for a dog trainer, but remember, it’s all about finding someone that you’re comfortable with and willing to follow their direction.

P.S. If your dog trainer makes you fee small and dumb for asking questions I suggest you fire them! No room for ego in any industry, especially dog training! 😉

 

Have fun!

 

Nik

 

 

 

 

Dharma Dog Services is HERE!!

Dharma Dog Services is here!! It’s time to celebrate the launch of a new and exciting step in our business.

It has been quite some time since my last blog post and I feel guilty and lazy because of it. You see, I have been trying very hard to launch the new dog training and dog walking programs properly and we wanted to make sure that we did things right!

First of all, the new website is great! While we do have some edits to make I am very happy with the overall appearance and functionality. Our very own client worked on the design and we are very thankful for his work! Check it out if you haven’t already www.dharmadogserivces.com

Our company now boasts 3 Dog Trainers on staff! 3! and potentially 5 by months end. The trainers will be working directly with your dogs, whether it be walking, grooming, boarding, or daycare. All behaviour consults for the time being will be performed by myself (Nik Fabisiak)

We have also expanded our in-home boarding operation to better accommodate  all of our clients. We hope that you think of us as a home away from home for your pet. Our new full time pet sitter Julie is an amazing person and loves to take her dog Copee on hikes!

Our new Walking service is phenomenal! We boast the lowest number of dogs per person in Vancouver. All staff are CERTIFIED TRAINERS! How can you beat that?

I forgot to mention the newest regular staff member; Joanne Fabisiak! She’s not only my wife, or the mother of my son, but she’s also an incredible office manager. She will keep Dharma Dog Services running like a top. If you like Dharma Dog Services now, just wait until Joanne get’s her hands on it. Talk about efficient, organized, caring service.

And yes, I am very proud! So please do us a favour and try us out, or if you already have, tell a friend because we LOVE what we do!

We look forward to seeing you all come through our doors,

 

Nik 🙂

Dharma Dog Owners

Sharing a laugh at our wedding.

 

 

Top 10 Dog Boarding Tips

Top 10 Dog Boarding Tips

It’s all too often that we get a phone call here at Dharma Dog Services with a panicked voice at the other end of the line “Can you take my dog?! Something has come up and we have no one to watch him! ”  Most of the time we will make every effort to accommodate, and if for whatever reason we can’t help directly, we will find you an alternative!

So here are some tips to ensure you are not only making sure that you can book your dog, but that you are choosing a quality service.

1. Book In Advance! 

Especially during the holiday seasons; Winter Holidays, Spring Break, Summer, or any long weekends. We have been nearly booked up for the summer for a couple of months now!

2. Do Your Research

Reading this blog is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s important to research a few places so you can compare the level of care, prices, and environment.

3. To Kennel,Board, or pet sit. 

Each option has it’s merits, however, each is very different.

Kenneling is often just that, kenneling! A dog will remain in a kennel through out the day and receive three 20 minutes walks. The price is significantly lower than the other options, but it is easily my least favourite. Price range: $15-30

Boarding involves bringing a dog into an open environment, often in another home. it’s much like a temporary foster situation. The dog will receive ample attention and is treating like one of the family. Lots of exercise and open air runs! This option is my FAVOURITE!  Price Range: $40-65

Pet Sitting is another alternative that is pretty good. It involves having your dog care professional stay at your house! The dog’s life will literally be the exact same except that he will have a replacement house keeper 😉 Cost:$55-125

4. Pack Carefully:

Be sure to provide the exact amount of food plus a little extra for the length of the stay. Bedding if necessary, I often suggest packing a t-shirt of some sort with your scent on it, and a toy! Just remember that toys get lost in the shuffle at times and it’s likely that the facility that you choose to hire will have some provided. If you have medicine for the dog be sure to write the instructions VERY specifically.

5. Email Updates

Email updates are a great way to keep track of your dog. If you’d like videos, emails, or pictures be sure to emphasize this to your facility of choice. Some places offer this as a free services, while others have it as an a la carte option

6. Cleanliness

Don’t trust a place that smells of dog pee! A little smell is no big deal, but just remember that if it smells of urine strongly, chances are their cleaning procedures aren’t up to snuff. If you notice a ton of fur on the ground, or dirt everywhere, they are probably not cleaning to the health standards you should expect.

7. Trustworthiness

as for reviews, letters of reference, or speak to your animal care professionals to get a good idea of a places reputation.

8. Exercise

How much exercise do they offer? Are there hikes?Play time? Socialization? Ask away, you may be shocked to find the truth.

9. Insurance

Are they insured? If anything happens to your dog who is liable? Great questions to ask?

10. FUN!

I seem to end all of my advice posts the same way. The main thing is that your dog has fun! Is at peace, and gets to relax while your away.

 

 

Warm regards,

dharma dog daycare

Yay work!

 

Nik

 

How To Train Your Dog

How to train your dog? Well, the answer is not going to be what you’d like to hear. Or maybe you’ve already come to expect it.

Training your dog is all relative. It depends on so many factors and it would take a while to even begin to explain. I’m here to be informative in an abbreviated form today. I am often asked a variety of dog training questions by nearly every dog owner when they first meet me. “How do I get my dog to stop barking at everything?” is a very common question. Sometimes I’m asked “How do I get my dog to come back when I call him?” My answer is often very similar and almost always greeted with frustration or dissapointment. Some people will understand and dive right in learning as much about their fuzzy friends communication as they can. My answer is this “Each dog is different. I’ll have to ask you few questions to establish your dogs temperament, and really get to the route of the problem.”

That’s right, I answer thir questions with more questions! Those that care to listen will succeed, those that want the easy answer are not as close to allevaiting their dogs behaviour problems as they hoped.

My goal as a behaviourist is simple; Help humans learn to communicate clearly with their dog. Not the other way around. If you spoke English your entire life and I tried to teach you a listen but spoke only in Spanish, how successful do you think our lesson would be? Maybe you would learn eventually, but chances are you’d have to learn to understand Spanish first and that would likely take some time. My approach with dogs is similar. As humans we speak countless languages and have variety of dialects. Yet, we expext dogs to be able to learn them all. While dogs are able to demonstrate an ability to form word associations. a great example is this border collie who has roughly the same ability to understand human language as your average 3 year old human. But, that’s just it, your average 3 year old has a limited vocabulary! So do dogs.

Dogs speak an entirely different language that is much easier for us humans to learn. It’s made up of mainly body language and tiny cues that when trained to see can make a ton of sense.

So, when you ask me “How do I train my dog?”

Expect me to train you!

 

Warm regards,

Dog trainer vancouver

Dog Trainer Nik Fabisiak and his trusty sidekick Vegas

 

Nik

Dog Trainers and Their Egos

Q:What is the only thing that two dog trainers will ever agree upon?

A: What the third dog trainer is doing wrong!

 

badump chhhh! (drum sound)

 

I guess I’m writing this piece in order to clarify my opinion on the “correct” way to train a dog. In my opinion there is NO set way to train a dog. There is definitely a wrong way though. Anything involving physical force or fear won’t solve problems with your dog.

I think the process of training a dog should be customized to each individual dog’s personality, temperament, lifestyle, history and breed. Our name, and logo is based on this philosophy and our goal to help dogs maintain a stress free life.

1. Look at things from your dog’s point of view; it’s a lot different when you truly look at their lack of understanding of our society, and being.

2. Simplify communication; speak their language and gradually teach them bits of ours. Did you know that dogs use body language as their primary communication device?

3. Discover what motivates them; is it food? play? praise and affection? When you can pinpoint one or all four, reward them for making great decisions using the best one.

4. Set rules and boundaries. Enforce them consistently.

5. Understand that they are NOT human.

6. Have FUN!! 

7. Learn to love the following acronym: C.R.A.P.

C onsistency

R epetition

A ction

P raise

If you can be flexible and be willing to learn multiple points of view, you may be able to not only better understand your own dog but many others. I try to leave my ego at the door when dealing with people or animals and open myself up to learning as much as possible. Take a scientific approach to prove or negate results.

Life is fun and so should working with your dog 🙂

Image

This image is a representation of my approach with dogs

Good luck!